Significance of Guru Tattva and Lord Kartikeya

When the five elements governed by Lord Shiva (pancha mahabhoota — Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether) united with Shakti (Pure Consciousness), Lord Kartikeya was born.

You can understand this in terms of the Kundalini Shakti (the primordial, dormant yet potent energy said to be present in a coiled form at the base of the spine). We have seven chakras (energy centers) within us. When the energy surges through the six chakras and stabilises at the sixth chakra – the Ajna chakra (present in the middle of the eyebrows), it blossoms as Lord Kartikeya (symbolism of the guru tattva principle). The Ajna chakra is the place of the guru tattva . It is where the guru tattva blossoms and manifests itself. And that guru tattva itself is Kartikeya tattva. Shiva is the un-manifest Divinity, while Kartikeya is the manifest. So you can think of Kartikeya as symbolic of the Kundalini Shakti.

There is a story about Kartikeya from the Puranas. When Kartikeya was a young child, His father, Lord Shiva asked him to receive education from Lord Brahma. So Kartikeya went to Brahma and asked him the meaning of Om. Brahma confessed that he didn’t have any answer. So, the story goes that Kartikeya told Brahma that since he did not have an answer, he was not qualified to teach. And Kartikeya went back to his father, and asked, ‘What is the meaning of Om?’ Shiva also replied that he had no answer.

Kartikeya agreed to tell the meaning only if he was given the place of a guru by seating him on a pedestal. Usually, a teacher sits on a higher place and the student has to sit down and listen to him. But being the highest and greatest of Gods, Shiva lifted young Kartikeya on to His shoulders. Kartikeya whispered the meaning of the Pranava Mantra (Om) in Shiva’s ears.

Kartikeya explained that the entire Creation is contained in Om. The Trinity – Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is contained in Om. Love – unbroken and unshakeable Love is Om. This is the essence and also the secret of Om that Kartikeya narrated to Shiva.

Upon hearing this, Goddess Parvati (Mother of Kartikeya, and an incarnation of the Mother Divine) was elated. Overcome with joy, She said, “Since you have become a guru (Swami) to my Lord (Natha).” Ever since, Kartikeya also came to be known as Swaminatha. So the essence of the story is this – The guru Tattva is placed even higher than Lord Shiva Himself!

To explain this truth, this story was written in the Skanda Purana.

— The writer is the founder of Art of Living Foundation and can be reached